Military cooperation [China.org.cn]
First, in the era of globalization, financial powers in the U.S. and other Western countries are restructuring the manufacturing industry all over the world. But this has brought challenges to their domestic manufacturing sectors, which results irreversible job losses in those countries and widening gap between the rich and the poor.
Second, the lifestyle and consumer habit of people in the U.S. have for a long time advanced from the country's stock of fortune and prosperity, making its government accustomed to fiscal deficits and growing national debt. This has seriously affected the health of the U.S. economy and its political impact on the world.
Third, because of political friction, it's hard for the U.S. government to reach a consensus on fiscal balance. Under the pressure of electoral politics, the two U.S. political parties can neither reach agreement on tax increases, nor achieve any compromise about reducing expenditure.
Forth, although the periodic external expansion of the U.S. has reached a period of contraction, America finds it hard to accept that its global influence is relatively declining, owing to its political genes and interest demands. The U.S. is reluctant to give up seeking the world's leadership role even though it is facing various troubles, and this will continue to deplete the country’s strength and speed up the changing hierarchy of global powers.
Some of these four challenges are common among Western countries. However, the U.S. faces some unique challenges, such as its ultra-high spending. The long-term overdraft has depleted the country's treasury for a long time, and that is due to the orientation of seeking global leadership.
During the Cold War, the world was polarized into two camps, the interests of the U.S. linked tightly with its allies. Nowadays, it faces a much more complex web of international relations unavoidable in the era of globalization.
As developing countries opened their labor markets, China began its economic reform and opening up. In order to seize more profits, U.S. companies and capital rushed into these developing countries. During this initial period, the U.S. government did not forbid the outgoing business opportunities, and instead regulated economic and trade relations with those countries through other means.
On the dilemma between supporting U.S. capital making profit overseas and protecting domestic jobs for its citizens, the two U.S. political parties are generally inclined to the former. The best thing they can do to comfort the unemployed workers is taking symbolic measures.
The U.S. government is relentlessly mercenary, and that has translated to much short-term gain. As the world's largest economy, the U.S. has not consumed the biggest share of the world's resources; however, it has left the enormous environmental burden from its economic development to other countries while seizing more profit.
However, the shortsightedness of the U.S. economic policymakers has helped to nurture their competitors to develop at full speed. In the past decade, China's economy grew at a pace ten times that of the U.S.; China's economy increased from 10 percent that of the U.S. to 40 percent, and its official military spending tripled from 5 percent that of the U.S. to almost 15 percent. China's rapid development could not have been possible without the investment, technology transfer and the open markets of the Western countries, yet this growth is increasingly becoming the anxiety of the United States.
With more emerging markets including China taking part in globalization, the balance of power between international actors become stabilized. But this kind of equality is a mirage, because the current political, economic and financial rules are almost all made by Western countries. China has to keep a "normal diplomatic relationship" with the U.S. though the latter continues to sell arms to Taiwan. Meanwhile, the U.S. has to accept a rapidly developing China. These are the struggles between the two countries' short-term and long-term goals.
However, we should recognize that the United States is still a hegemonic world superpower.
Firstly, the U.S.'s political system has the capability of correcting errors. U.S. leaders do not have tenure, so that obvious political errors, such as the Iraq War, can be corrected in no longer than ten years.
Secondly, the American value is capable of rallying its allies in the world today, whereas the values and political system of China at this stage have a hard time becoming a model for other international powers.
Last but not the least, the U.S.'s technological innovation and education is still the most advanced. And the U.S. military force remains unrivalled in the world.
China and the U.S. have an extremely complex relationship. The two countries hold a delicate waltz, moving constantly in accordance to each other, their power balance and their intentions.
The author is a professor of international relations at Fudan University.
This article was first published in Chinese and translated by Lin Liyao.